Monday, March 8, 2021

Meditation & Mindfulness - For beginners

 

Often times people might think that meditation requires intense levels of focus and discipline in order to achieve its desired effects. Other times people believe they simply do not have the time or space to do it either. The key thing to remember is that everyone can achieve mindfulness in their own way and nothing ever has to be forced. This blog will help those who would like to begin their journey into finding tranquility & peace during trying times. 

Step 1: Get Comfortable 

You will always want to make sure you are free of distraction. This could be noise, non comfortable clothing, bright and or dim areas, and your choice of being around others or choosing to be isolated. The first couple of times you try meditating you will start to really observe your environment in a different way. you will realize just how many things can be going on at one time that could be adding to higher levels of stress / irritation. When you have discovered your "safe place" it will be time to initiate your meditative session. 

Step 2: Focal Points 

At this point you now want to figure out what the most comfortable position for your body is. Some prefer to be seated on the ground with their legs crossed, others simply sit in a chair. Whatever is most comfortable for you, do it! There are some things you do need to focus on however. An easy acronym to remember your focal points is B.T.B (Breath, Thoughts, Body) Your breathing is hands down the most integral part of your ability to achieve mindfulness. the best trick for breathing is to do four seconds inhale and four seconds exhale. The focus of breathing helps put your body in a relaxed state and opens up the opportunity to focus completely on the two other points. 

Your thoughts also play a huge role since the main point of meditation is to sort and organize the thoughts you might be having. A huge misconception is that you can not think about anything other than meditation. On the contrary this is the time to address any thoughts you might be having. There is no need to judge your thoughts, simply think them analyze them and carry on.

The final focal point is the body. What helps to really prioritize your body is to close your eyes and begin to simply feel everything you might be physically feeling. Going back to your breathing feel the air as it enters through the nose and releases through the mouth. With practice you will start to gauge when your body begins to fall into a more calm and relaxed state. When you feel more relaxed and your breathing is on check, now you can focus on the rest of the body. Note the contact of your body and the area you might be sitting on. Note the air on your skin. You will be amazed to see what your body will tell you when you finally pay attention to it. 

Step 3: Release

After you have practiced training your body to focus completely and entirely on yourself you yourself will know when you have entered the meditative state. When you are there the next step is to just drift into the peacefulness and allow yourself to simply enjoy this time to yourself. Everyone is different in timing. For some this state can last for thirty seconds others up to an hour or more. The world record for the longest uninterrupted meditation is three days ! You practice for what you need. If you need only five minutes one day to decompress then have at it. If you have more time and you need up to an hour it is completely doable. 

Step 4: Reconnection

After all these steps have been achieved and you feel you got what you needed out of your session it is time to reconnect with the outside world. You never want to just get up and be done and carry on with your day. When you are ready, begin to bring attention back to B.T.B. Remember your breathing patterns, bring your thoughts back to the front of your mind, and notice the differences in what your body might be experiencing. After you have reconnected reflect for a few seconds about your experience. Perhaps what you could do differently or what you enjoyed most about it. 

Learning to focus on yourself and your body is huge in being mentally fit and healthy. Meditation & Mindfulness can help you out in so many more ways than one. The best part about it is that it costs 0$ to get the best experience and the more you practice the better you will get !

Did you know that nutrition can directly affect your mental health?

 


Food you eat is not only important for your physical health but also your mental health. According to a Harvard Health Blog, your brain is working 24/7, even when you sleep. So, it is important to give your brain good nutrition so it can operate at its fullest (Selhub, 2015).

Like an expensive vehicle needs premium gasoline, your brain needs high-quality foods that have many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to keep it running at its best. When we don’t provide the nutrients that our brain needs it tends not to run as well, leaving us with fogginess and fatigue (Selhub, 2015).

So, what are the foods you should eat and which ones should you stay away from? Well, you have come to the right place!

As tempting as it can be at times, choosing sugary and processed fast-food options can tend to make not just your body feel weighed down, but also your brain. This kind of carb overload makes your brain feel foggy, tired, and overall blah. Your brain is a powerful machine and feeding it the right fuels will help cognitive function and decrease certain mental conditions like depression. 

High intakes of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, fish, low fat dairy, and antioxidants, as well as a low intake of protein has been shown to reduce risks of depression. While a Western-style diet containing high intakes of red and processed meats, refined grains, sweets, high fat dairy products, butter, and potatoes with a low intake of fruits and veggies has been linked with an increased risk of depression (McGrane, 2021).

Nutritional Psychiatrists believe there is a link between high processed, sugary, and fatty foods and inflammation, that can result in an increased risk of depression or other mental health concerns (Selhub, 2015). So, the next time you are feeling hangry, instead of going to the snickers bar, try eating some vegetables, fruits, nuts, and grains. Your brain will be sure to thank you for it!

References

Selhub, E. (2015, November 16). Harvard Health Blog [Blog]. Nutritional Psychiatry: Your Brain on Food. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/nutritional-psychiatry-your-brain-on-food-201511168626

McGrane, K. (2021, January 8). Nutrition and mental health: Is there a link? Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/nutrition-and-mental-health-is-there-a-link#The-complexity-of-mental-health

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

 


There is no denying that this year has taken its toll on people’s mental health. We have been separated from those we love, seen daily counts of infections and deaths increase due to COVID-19, viewed countless images of fighting and destruction throughout our nation, and been divided by politics. It is easy to see why we might feel a little overwhelmed mentally.

Fortunately, there are a few simple tools we can use to boost our mental health and combat those feeling of being overwhelmed.  One such tool is the power of gratitude. Scientific research shows that expressing gratitude can enhance your mental and physical well-being.

Expressions of gratitude can help us be happier, more resilient, and have better self-esteem. Expressing gratitude can reduce blood pressure and symptoms of depression. In addition, expressing gratitude can strengthen relationships and improve sleep (Ackerman, 2020).

To start on the path of expressing gratitude we may consider doing a few of the following things:

1-     Journal 3-5 things we are grateful for each day.

2-     Start a gratitude jar for the year. Write down specific items, and add one thing to your gratitude jar each day. Periodically take time to read what is in you jar.

3-     Express gratitude in words. Tell someone what you are grateful for.

In the end, gratitude is worth the effort.

Sources:

 Ackerman, C. E. (2020, September 01). 28 Benefits of Gratitude & Most Significant Research Findings. Retrieved December 26, 2020, from https://positivepsychology.com/benefits-gratitude-research-questions/

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Ideas for Date Night During a Pandemic

 Intro Option 1 - During a pandemic, times can be trying. Don’t let the sizzle in your relationship burn out because your favorite restaurant is requiring a face shield that keeps you and your honey from smooching at the dinner table. Stay in and enjoy quality time with your loved one doing these fantastic stays at home date night ideas:

Here are our top 5 great stay at home date night Ideas:

1.    Paint n Sip – Who says you have to go out to have a great time painting and sipping on a delicious beverage? Grab a canvas and some paints, perhaps a Bob Ross tutorial on YouTube, and a beverage of your choice. This evening will be a chance to laugh, enjoy yourself, or even discover your inner artist. Either way it is sure to be a date night that will make it into the books.

 Dinner and A Show – Get all dressed up and make a fancy dinner. Grab your favorite beverage, the music, the works! Relish in a great dinner and even better conversation. After your evening meal. Settle down together on the couch and watch a movie and enjoy genuine time. In this theatre you don’t have to worry about your chair getting kicked or someone else’s head blocking the view.

Putting Together A Puzzle – Puzzles are a favorite pastime for many individuals. They can be a time when you grab a favorite beverage of choice and slow down with a nice quite evening putting a puzzle together. There are many different puzzles to choose from such as 2D puzzles to 3D puzzles. It will bee an evening that can easily fit into becoming a favorite date night.

 Board Games – Perhaps you have a score to settle, a bet to win, or you both just love board games. This date night option will be sure to be victorious for both of you. This evening is meant for spending quality time, laughing, and don’t forget…..competition. May the odds be ever in your favor.  

 Dancing – Practice this date night with care as you and your significant other entertain another with different styles of dancing. This can also be a time for slow dancing with mutually liked music or practice for your couple’s dance routine if you and your significant other have or are developing one. 

 Spa Date-You don’t have to go to an expensive spa to fully enjoy this leisurely intimate evening together. Burn some candles, play some relaxing music,  light some incense, grab your favorite fragrant lotion, buy a facial mask or foot scrub, put on a robe, and connect with your spouce by giving each other back massages, facial massages, soak feet and foot rub, bubble bath, head massage, or massage each other hands. 

 Regardless of the activities that you do at home. Date night should be about spending time with your loved one and strengthening that healthy bond. Even though times are busy make sure you are making that time for your significant other and don’t forget to make some time for yourself.

 

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Don’t Loss Sleep over COVID-19


    Covid-19 has effected just about every one, and every area of our lives. Whether it be our        employment, our children’s schooling, our family get togethers, our vacations, or some of our most important life events, it seems that COVID-19 is always there to rear its ugly head.  Covid-19 has induced feelings of fear, uncertainty, and anxiety, but we don’t have to give it power over all aspects of our lives. We can fight back with one simple tool--SLEEP.

If you have been losing sleep over COVID-19, you may be asking how to get back on a good sleeping schedule.  The answer is to set aside time to developing good sleep hygiene. It does not require much and is relatively simple to implement. Sleep when used right has many benefits for our minds and our bodies.  Below are seven simple steps for improved sleep hygiene and the benefits of a good nights’ rest.